Your body needs the right amount of blood flow to keep your heart pumping, your legs moving and your brain functioning. Blood
circulation, the movement of blood throughout the body, is clearly crucial to your existence, and poor leg circulation can cause many problems for individuals.
A common cause of poor leg circulation – restricted blood flow to your legs – is peripheral vascular disease, or PVD. This term refers to disorders involving blood vessels outside, or on the periphery, of the heart. PVD can involve peripheral arteries (blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart) or peripheral veins (blood vessels that carry blood toward the heart).
When PVD involves the arteries, it is known as peripheral artery disease, or PAD. A fatty substance called plaque builds up and hardens on the walls of the peripheral arteries, making it difficult for blood to properly flow through. The plaque takes years to build up, which is why older adults are more at risk.
In addition, the following behaviors or conditions can also contribute to leg circulation problems:
If you have poor leg circulation, symptoms usually develop gradually.
Frequent suffering with cold feet and/or cold hands usually signifies that your circulation, or blood flow from your heart, has slowed. This may especially happen at night when you are trying to sleep, during periods of immobility or after eating certain foods.
People who have very poor leg circulation may also develop a blood clot, a sudden blockage in blood that can cause severe leg pain. This blood clot, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), develops in a deep vein, and can occur when a vein is damaged or if blood flow slows down or stops completely. If you're obese and/or over age 40, you're at particular risk
Good circulation ensures that your body can stay healthy, heal well, and properly function during daily activities.
The most important treatment for poor leg circulation is to address the risk factors:
The Podiatry Institute suggests that you always see your physician if you suspect you have poor leg circulation, as the condition can be serious and an indication of another medical problem. Medications are available to treat leg circulation problems and to help prevent more serious consequences.
Information on foot, leg and lower body health conditions provided by The Podiatry Institute, dedicated to advancing the standard of care in podiatric medicine and its effects on muscoskeletal health.
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